Domestic violence in Saudi Arabia

Domestic violence in Saudi Arabia is a problem as in many parts of Asia.[1]

There is a deep cultural belief in Saudi Arabia that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman to discipline a spouse.[2][3][4][5]


Domestic abuse in Saudi Arabia started to receive public attention in 2004 after a popular television presenter, Rania al-Baz, was severely beaten by her husband, and photographs of her bruised and swollen face were published in the press.[6][7] According to Al-Baz, her husband beat her, intending to kill her, after she answered the phone without his permission.[8]

Violence against women and children in the home was traditionally not seen as a criminal matter in Saudi Arabia until 2013.[9] In 2008, "social protection units", Saudi Arabia's version of women's shelters, were ordered by the prime minister to expand in several large Saudi cities. That year the prime minister also ordered the government to draft a national strategy to deal with domestic violence.[10] Some Saudi royal foundations, such as the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue and the King Khalid Foundation, have also led education and awareness efforts against domestic violence.[10] Five years later, in 2013, Saudi Arabia launched its first major effort against domestic violence, the "No More Abuse" ad campaign.[10]

In August 2013, the Saudi cabinet approved a law making domestic violence a criminal offence for the first time. The law calls for a punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 riyals (US$13,000).[9] The maximum punishments can be doubled for repeat offenders. The law criminalizes psychological and sexual abuse, as well as physical abuse. It also includes a provision obliging employees to report instances of abuse in the workplace to their employer.[11] The move followed a Twitter campaign. The new laws were welcomed by Saudi women's rights activists, although some expressed concerns that the law could not be implemented successfully without new training for the judiciary, and that the tradition of male guardianship would remain an obstacle to prosecutions.[9]

The number of reported harassment cases against women and juveniles in Saudi Arabia has reached 2,797 in one year, a newspaper stated on quoting official statistics.[12]

See also


  1. "Saudi Arabia outlaws domestic violence". Aljazeera. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  2. "When domestic violence strikes in Saudi Arabia". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  3. "Saudi Arabia's domestic violence law is a first step to changing attitudes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  4. "Saudi Arabia passes its first-ever anti-domestic violence law". Salon. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  5. "Saudi Arabia passes its first-ever anti-domestic violence law". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  6. Bradley, John R. (2005). Saudi Arabia Exposed : Inside a Kingdom in Crisis. Palgrave. p. 184.
  7. Saudi TV host's beating raises taboo topic: domestic violence against Muslim women| By Souheila Al-Jadda | |May 12, 2004|accessed 2014-10-15
  8. Vulliamy, Ed (2005-10-04). "Breaking the silence". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  9. 1 2 3 Usher, Sebastian (28 August 2013). "Saudi Arabia cabinet approves domestic abuse ban". BBC News.
  10. 1 2 3 Dewey, Caitlin (2013-05-01). "Saudi Arabia launches powerful ad campaign against domestic violence". Retrieved 2013-08-30.
  11. Anderson, Lisa (28 August 2013). "Saudi Arabia passes historic domestic abuse legislation". Reuters.
  12. "Worrying statistics: Abuse against women and children swelling in Saudi". 6 August 2013.
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